CAMHS policy in Wales

The National Service Model for local Primary Care Mental Health support services was published by the Welsh Government in 2011. This initiative covers all ages and aims to aid the delivery of these services. 

The Welsh Government launched a national strategy for counselling in schools. The final evaluation was published in November 2011.

The Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010 was introduced on the 22nd March 2010. A Measure is a piece of law made by the Assembly, so is similar to an Act of Parliament.

The Schools Effectiveness Framework (SEF) describes the key characteristics required to build on existing good practice and improve children’s and young people’s learning and wellbeing throughout Wales, and each partner’s contribution to securing that.  Wellbeing is at the heart of the SEF and is seen as a crucial core element of the work of education settings.  Thinking Positively: emotional health and wellbeing in schools and early years settings (2010)  offers:

  • A summary overview of the key information and issues for schools and education settings in relation to promoting the emotional health and wellbeing of children and young people, including examples of current practice in Wales
  • Proposals to support schools and local authorities in taking forward their work in promoting emotional health and wellbeing, and for early identification and intervention for children and young people who are experiencing mental health problems
  • Signposting to resources and sources of support

Breaking the Barriers: Meeting the Challenges. Better Support for Children and Young People with Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Needs, issued in June 2010, is the Welsh Assembly Government’s Action Plan responding to this report 

The Welsh Assembly Government has established The All Wales Mental Health Promotion Network, which is hosted by the Wales Centre for Health (WCH). Any individual or organisation can join the network, which is supported by a Network Board and a full-time Network Co-ordinator. The Network provides leadership and focus for improving public mental health in Wales. It aims to increase public and professional understanding of good mental health and how it can be promoted and protected, by sharing learning, developing evidence and practice and by acting as a channel for the spreading of promising practice, through a quarterly newsletter, annual conference, seminars and website.

A Framework for a School Nursing Service for Wales (2009) sets out the Welsh Assembly Government’s approach to developing a school nursing service for children and young people that is safe, accessible and of a high standard.  School nursing is central to a range of services that promote and support the physical, social and emotional health of children and young people and contributes to a healthy school culture. A key part of the school nurse’s role is to contribute either directly or indirectly to a range of educational and health outcomes, which includes positive mental health and wellbeing.

The report by the Wales Audit Office and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, supported by Estyn and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales, into services for children and young people with emotional and mental health needs in Wales, was published in November 2009  It concluded that “despite some improvements in recent years, services are still failing many children and young people, reflecting a number of key barriers to improvement...The challenges faced by the Assembly Government and those providing services ...are considerable”

Wales has a national action plan 2008 – 2013 to reduce suicide and self-harm called Talk to Me that makes 7 key commitments:

  • Helping people to feel good about themselves.
  • Providing help early to those in need.
  • Responding to crises in people’s lives.
  • Dealing with the effects of suicide and self-harm.
  • Increasing research and improving information on suicide.
  • Working with the media to make sure reporting on mental health and suicide is sensitive.
  • Making sure that, where possible, people at risk do not have access to things which could be used for suicide.

In 2005 the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services was published  with chapter 4 specifically addressing children and young people with mental health problems and disorders, while the promotion of psychological wellbeing is addressed in chapter 2 alongside other universal services and transitions are addressed through a transitions standard in chapter 5. Mental health standards relate to access to services - children and young people have equitable access to a comprehensive range of services according to assessed need, delivered in a co-ordinated manner, and quality of services - children and young people with identified mental health problems or disorders receive services to meet their needs which are timely, effective and co-ordinated.

Since 2004 the Welsh Assembly Government has based its policy for children and young people on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the policy context in Wales is set by 7 core aims which state that children should:

  • Have a flying start in life
  • Have a comprehensive range of education and learning opportunities
  • Enjoy the best possible health and be free from abuse, victimisation and exploitation
  • Have access to play, leisure, sporting and cultural activities
  • Be listened to, treated with respect, and have their race and cultural identity recognised
  • Have a safe home and a community which supports physical and emotional wellbeing
  • Not be disadvantaged by poverty.

Wales was the first of the UK countries to have a national CAMHS strategy with the launch in September 2001 of Everybody’s Business which outlined a comprehensive, four-tiered model including all those working with children and young people.